Preston jeweller clocks off after 62 years in business

WAY OF LIFE: Norman Oldfield in Hackler's jewellers, Preston
WAY OF LIFE: Norman Oldfield in Hackler's jewellers, Preston
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Norman Oldfield was just eight years old when he first became interested in watches.

And now after a fascinating 62-year career, he is preparing to close his city centre jewellers, Hackler’s, for the final time.

For the 78-year-old is calling time on the job he loves as retirement beckons.

The father-of-three has seen many changes to the city over the years but admits the change of pace the new year will bring will be hard to get used to – because he is still working 11 hour days!

Norman said: “I have done 62 years, 20-odd in here and the others on Friargate.

“I started in 1952 working at Whittles in Miller Arcade then I went to Scanlon’s in Orchard Street then in 1957 I started on my own.

“I started playing with watches when I was eight. My grandfather owned a mill in Barnoldswick where the Silent Night beds are made now.

“On every floor of the mill there was a man called a tackler; they used to service the looms, the tacklers had to keep the machines going.

“They had a workshop, it was like a shed in the corner, and they did watch repairs and I used to watch them.”

He added: “I have got so many loyal customers. I have got so many. That’s the problem – I don’t want to pack in.

“I have had cards and letters, I have set a boy up, Danny Wilkinson, at Lane Ends, in a watch and clock shop and I am going to give him the name so it can carry on.

“That was the idea, really, he has a little shop at Lane Ends.

“I know so many people. In 1957 I knew most of the surgeons at Preston Royal. They came in for their watch repairs and the police came to us as well. We have our own workshop here where we do all the work. I think everybody knows me!

“I am bothered about it being a big change, I have always done it.”

Norman’s last day at Hackler’s will be Christmas Eve.

Another jeweller will be moving into the premises in the new year.

He has fond memories of the city and recalls the old town hall which stood on the Flag Market on the spot which is now home to Crystal House.

Norman, who has two grandchildren, recently celebrated his ruby wedding with wife Joan. He concluded: “It’s been hard work but I have enjoyed my shop life and the customers, of course.

“In the main I think I am well liked. Well, I hope I am.”